INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
This week marks the release of Matthew Dow Smith‘s October Girl #3, nearly two and half years after the debut of the second issue of the Monkeybrain Comics series. Smith is the first to admit that’s way too long a period between issues.
As part of my continuing effort to have creators open up about their creative process, I asked Smith to share the process for creating a page from October Girl #3. He’s clearly eager to get the next installment of his dark fantasy series into readers’ hands. Understandably, given that the story’s core concept seems delightfully engaging on several levels (a young woman, Autumn Ackerman, discovers that her imaginary childhood friend is quite real).
This week sees the release of the sixth issue of Natalie Nourigat‘s Eurotrip sketchbook Tally Marks, from Monkeybrain Comics. In addition to the preview on Comic Book Resources, Nourigat provided ROBOT 6 with some other pages, as well as a selection of scans directly from the sketchbook. It provides readers with an idea of what her art looks like before Photoshop tweaks.
Among the critically acclaimed series from Monkeybrain Comics, Amelia Cole by D.J. Kirkbride, Adam P. Knave and Nick Brokenshire stands out as one of the more successful. By success, we mean the creators’ ability to consistently produce digital releases of individual issues, followed by collected editions release through IDW Publishing.
To date, Amelia Cole has produced 19 issues (with the 20th arriving this month), and three trade paperbacks: Amelia Cole and the Unknown World; Amelia Cole and the Hidden War; and Amelia Cole and the Enemy Unleashed. In terms of digital releases, Issue 20 will mark the second part of Amelia Cole and the Impossible Fate.
As part of this interview about the series, Kirkbride and Knave shared an early look at pages from the next issue.
Fans of Gabriel Hardman‘s Kinski get a double treat this week, as the original Monkeybrain run of the series wraps up with the digital release of Issue 6, while at the same time Image Comics has collected all six issues in a $14.99 trade paperback.
To mark the occasion, ROBOT 6 reached out to Hardman for any bonus material he was willing to share . He obliged us with a rejected cover. He also offered the following explanation:
One of the Monkeybrain Comics titles debuting this week on comiXology is the fourth issue of Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom, a series by Kevin Church and Grace Allison about an NYU student who goes on a bender only to awaken the next day in a fantasy realm. To mark the release of the new issue, Allison provided ROBOT 6 with a glimpse into the creative process.
One upon a time, an entire subcontinent crashed into the largest continent. Tectonic plates collided, sending rocks jutting toward the heavens. Jagged peaks formed formed the Himalayas, and looming higher than any other was Everest. Sir Edmund Hilary famously journeyed to the top of the world, a feat that inspired generations of explorers to believe that no place on Earth is unconquerable. But they’re not always right, for on its icy, windswept cliffs, many an intrepid soul has succumbed to its perils. Everest is a mountain of madness. It’s a mountain … of death.
Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Eisner-nominated comic High Crimes (Monkeybrain) follows the thrilling, high-stakes adventure of a lost soul named Suzanne “Zan” Jansen. She was an avid snowboarder until her Olympic dreams were cruelly crushed by an injury. Haunted by failure, her days are spent in an unbreakable cycle of drinking and self-loathing. She ends up involved in a sordid occupation: finding the missing bodies of those who disappeared on climbing expeditions. The dirty work is done by her grizzled, older business partner Haskell, who chops a hand off the dead, then returns to base to have it stored in his freezer. The fingerprints are traced by a corrupt police officer, and the identity lets them know which families to bribe.
One day, Haskell is dealt a bad hand. Literally. It belongs to a decades-old corpse who used to be Sebastian Mars. He’s not just a climber; he’s a person of interest. Inside the severed hand, Zan discovers a capsule containing a rolled-up microfiche of secrets. It turns out that it’s something like the Maltese Falcon: the stuff that dreams are made of, and a thing of extreme value to the wrong kinds of people.
This year, The Oatmeal dominates the Eisner Best Digital comic category as “the one that most people have heard of.” That’s pretty much in direct contrast to last year, which was populated by five relatively obscure titles. It’s a testament, I think, to the far-reaching diversity of webcomics, where few ever become pop culture superstars but many have devoted fanbase. You had indie-style comics like Ant Comic and It Will All Hurt, the haunting short story Our Bloodstained Roof and the classic Thimble Theater-inspired art of Oyster War.
The eventual winner, though, was the one that most closely resembled a traditional comic. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Monkeybrain Comics) was the first Eisner winner that had to be downloaded from comiXology — a true “digital comic” as opposed to a “webcomic.” I imagine that the familiar panel layout was the one least likely to send traditionalists into paroxysms. Heck, the tone of the story itself feels very much like a throwback to both Silver Age comic stories and European all-ages fare like The Adventures of Tintin. But so what? It’s old school, and in a way that made it refreshingly novel.
In addition to discussing the new status quo for Monkeybrain (which surprisingly stays much the same as before, as Roberson explains), we also delve into Edison Rex – Issue 16 arrives Wednesday — and dig into the writer’s first work for Dark Horse, Aliens: Fire and Stone, which debuts Sept. 24.
Monkeybrain Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with sneak peeks at its January titles: Anti-Hero #6, The Army of Dr. Moreau #3, Bandette #6, Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective #1, D4VE #2, Edison Rex #13, Red Light Properties #7: Golden Palms Part I, Strange Nation #4 and Theremin #4.
All titles will be available for purchase from comiXology.com.
Conventions | The standalone Stumptown Comics Fest may be history, but an event has popped up to help fill the void: Linework NW, organized by Zack Soto and Francois Vigneault, a free, one-day show that will take place April 12 in Portland, Oregon. Michael DeForge has been announced as a special guest for the event, which will include such exhibitors as Fantagraphics, Koyama Press, Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Scott Snyder is the subject of a glowing profile in The New York Times, which states the writer has “reinvented Batman in the past two years, deepening and humanizing the Dark Knight’s myth — in the making since 1939 — like no one since Frank Miller in the 1980s.” [The New York Times]
I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?
Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.
To “make the wait for issue #2 less excruciating,” the Captain Ultimate team has released “a long-lost pulp adventure” starring the title character. The prose story, titled “Appetite for Destruction” and featuring a cover by
Axl Rose Taylor Stauft, is available as a free download on the Captain Ultimate blog.
“When the world’s greatest hero, Captain Ultimate, disappeared, a writer named Richard Richardson kept his myth alive through pulp fiction, comic books, radio serials, and more,” the press release reads. “While much of that material was thought to have been lost to time, current Captain Ultimate shepherds Benjamin Bailey, Joey Esposito, and Boy ‘Boykoesh’ Akkerman have unearthed a treasure trove of long-lost material from the notoriously reclusive writer.”
It sounds like we can expect more “lost” Captain Ultimate stories in the future. The first issue of Captain Ultimate can be found on comiXology, while Issue 2 is due in September. Check out my interview from last month with Esposito and Bailey for more information on the comic.
Artful Daggers, by writers Adam P. Knave and Sean E. Williams and artist Andrew Losq, is visually one of the most distinctive titles Monkeybrain Comics publishes. The series, which portrays a world 50 years after the end of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, considers the impact of bringing 19th-century technology into medieval times. Or as the creative team puts it succinctly: “Swords, Spies and Science.”
To mark today’s release of Artful Daggers #6, which CBR previewed Tuesday, I reached out to the writing team of Knave and Williams to discuss their universe, where kingdoms have been replaced by corporations. While the focus of the interview is their writing, Losq’s impact on the series is clear, as his collaborators admits they “end up cutting dialogue more often than not, as Andrew’s able to do more with an expression than we can with dialogue.”
Before closing our interview, Knave was happy to chat briefly about his other Monkeybrain ongoing (with co-writer D.J. Kirkbride and artist Nick Brokenshire), Amelia Cole. It’s an especially current topic of discussion given that on Aug. 14 IDW Publishing will release the digital series’ first print collection, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World.
On the heels of winning the Eisner Award for best digital comic, Bandette creators Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have released a fifth free installment of Bandette: Urchin Stories, this time teaming Tobin with cartoonist Erika Moen (DAR!, Bucko).
If, for some reason, you’re not yet familiar with Bandette, the Monkeybrain Comics series follows the adventures of a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. A print collection will be published in November by Dark Horse.
Launched in October 2012 to supplement the main series, Urchin Stories, as the title suggests, focuses on the supporting cast, with each short tale drawn by a different art. The latest installment turns the spotlight on the newest, and youngest, urchin, Belda. The previous stories can be found on the Monkeybrain website.
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.